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Mainland’s experienced senior core has sights set on state championship

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

Mainland Regional High School seniors, from left to right, Jamie Tyson, Cohen Cook and Stephen Ordille pose with the Battle for the Bridge trophy after the Mustangs' 35-0 win over Ocean City in the football game played at Mainland Regional High School in Linwood, New Jersey on Friday, September 1, 2023. Kevin Emmons/South Jersey Sports Zone

LINWOOD (N.J.) - Seniors Jamie Tyson, Cohen Cook and Stephen Ordille are experienced leaders on the Mainland Regional High School football and boys basketball teams.

Last December, the Mustangs' football program captured its first sectional title since 2008 and reached the NJSIAA Group 4 state semifinals to face Cape-Atlantic League foe Millville. Mainland was less than a minute away from punching its ticket to the Group 4 state final at Rutgers Universiry before Thunderbolts running back Na'eem Sharp scored a touchdown with 39 seconds left to secure an 18-14 win.

Fast forward to February.

The Mustangs' boys basketball team was knotted at 29-29 with Moorestown in the South Jersey Group 3 semifinals with 10.2 seconds left in regulation. Josh Byrd heaved a turnaround three-pointer from the top of the key to beat the buzzer and secure a win for the Quakers. Mainland watched the celebration in disbelief as it's season concluded in the blink of an eye.

The redemption tour inaugurated on the right foot as the Mustangs cruised to a 26-7 win over Washington Township in the Battle at the Beach high school football showcase on August 25. Ordille rushed for 128 yards and a touchdown. Rocco DeBiaso added 123 rushing yards and a score on the ground. Cook and Liam Kennedy each scored a rushing touchdown, and Tyson intercepted a pass on defense.

The journey continued with a home matchup against neighboring rival Ocean City on Teacher's Appreciation Night. Mainland prevailed with a 35-0 triumph over its arch nemesis on September 1.

The Mustangs failed to beat Ocean City on the gridiron in each of the past five seasons, including a narrow 21-20 loss at Carey Stadium last season.

"We owed them for sure," Ordille said. "Coming out here and holding them to zero points and dominating the whole game felt amazing."

The Mustangs established the ground attack early on and capitalized on their opening drive with a 23-yard touchdown by Ordille. The senior finished with 81 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

"It felt great," Ordille said. "Coming out we knew we were going to try and pound the ball. ... It was a great way to start the game. It gave us a lot of confidence on offense, and gives a lot of energy on defense, too."

The Red Raiders showed signs of life with a pair of runs that equaled 55 yards by running back Duke Guenther to set up first-and-goal on Mainland's two-yard line. One play later, the Mustangs forced a fumble and Cook recovered the loose ball in the end zone for a touchback.

"It was good that our defense was able to step up and force the fumble," Cook said. "That was big for the energy in the game, just the momentum swing.

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